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Cablegate: Egypt: Ambassador Gross Discusses Ict


DE RUEHEG #3247/01 3180920
R 140920Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but unclassified, please protect accordingly.

1. (U) Summary: In his November 3 ) 6 visit to Cairo,
Ambassador David Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International
Communications and Information Policy, congratulated Egyptian
information and communications technology (ICT) officials and

business leaders on the progress in the Egyptian ICT market
and gave a keynote address on Internet governance at a
conference of international ICT industry representatives and
policy-makers. Ambassador Gross encouraged Egyptian ICT
leaders publicly and privately to ensure the free flow of
information via the Internet to Egyptian citizens per the
Secretary of State's Global Internet Freedom Taskforce

(GIFT), and explained USG support for protecting Intellectual
Property Rights (IPR). The Egyptian National Council for
Human Rights requested a GIFT policy paper to support an
upcoming Arab-African human rights conference. End summary.

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WITSA Global Public Policy Conference

2. (U) Ambassador David Gross, U.S. Coordinator for
International Communications and Information Policy, visited
Cairo November 3 - 6 to give a keynote address on Internet
governance in the Global Public Policy Conference (GPPC) of
the World Information Technology and Services Alliance
(WITSA). Ambassador Gross emphasized the U.S. commitment to
maintaining the stability of the Internet in his November 5
keynote, and in side conversations discussed preparations for
the UN Internet Governance Forum, planned for November 11 )
14 in Brazil.

Egyptian ICT with Government and Business Leaders
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. (SBU) Ambassador Gross congratulated Egyptian Minister of
Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) Tarek Kamel
in a November 3 dinner on recently awarding a submarine
landing cable license to Orascom, thus further liberalizing
Egypt's ICT international connectivity market. Minister
Kamel noted Egypt's aim of becoming a center for business
process and knowledge process outsourcing and gave an update
on Egypt's commitments to ICT development in Sub-Saharan
Africa. Discussing the upcoming OECD Ministerial, Kamel
expressed his concern for Internet crime as well as the
technical aspects of cyber security, noting that many aspects
are beginning to be addressed by the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU). Ambassador Gross mentioned
the tentative possibility of a 2008 conference to help
develop a new Palestinian state's ICT market, to help make
that prospective country economically viable.

4. (U) Speaking to about 25 American Chamber of Commerce ICT
Committee members on November 6, Ambassador Gross discussed
how the Internet has eased communication and information
flow, noted USG commitment to the stability and viability of
the Internet, and emphasized that the free flow of
information is essential for political and economic
development. Ambassador Gross explained that "more
information trumps bad information" in general, but that
local considerations must be respected, as long as countries
make decisions on restricting information through a
democratic process. Questioned on the social impact of ICT
and restricting the free flow of information, Ambassador
Gross said that ICT diminishes the rich/poor gap - the fact
that half of the world has a cell phone is evidence of this.
Ambassador Gross made similar points in a November 6 meeting
with Shafik Gabr, CEO of Artoc and Chairman of the Arab
Business Council.

Public Outreach

5. (U) On November 4, Ambassador Gross spoke to approximately
100 computer science faculty and students at Ain Shams
University, also on GIFT and ensuring a stable and open
Internet. Questions revolved around how to ensure IPR and
U.S. policy toward outsourcing and the development of new,
advanced technologies in Egypt. Ambassador Gross said that
IPR protection requires not only a legal framework but also
enforcement and education. Additionally, businesses need to
devise new ways to address consumer needs given the
simplicity of IPR violations for technologies. He affirmed
that, although outsourcing is often a controversial issue in
U.S. domestic politics, the administration sees outsourcing
as a win-win scenario for both the U.S. and foreign partners,
and that the U.S. welcomes new technologies no matter where
they are developed. Ambassador Gross also met with the

president of Ain Shams and dean of the Information and
Computing faculty.

6. (U) Also on November 4, Ambassador Gross conducted a press
round-table with Egyptian ICT reporters. Local papers
reported that Ambassador Gross praised Egypt's capacity to
attract international ICT companies and the development of
Egypt's private sector. Additionally, they reported that
Ambassador Gross praised Egypt's role in formulating Internet
policy on the world stage, while at the same time appealing
to Egyptian officials to more stringently enforce IPR
protection to further attract international ICT investment.

Human Rights Council and Information Freedom

7. (SBU) In a November 6 meeting with Ambassador Mokhles Qotb
of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights (NCHR),
Ambassador Gross emphasized GIFT principles, inquired as to
the NCHR's activities in this field, and asked how the USG
can support Egypt. Qotb mentioned several areas for
potential support: consulting on new legislation regarding
free speech on the Internet; training for the Ministry of
Interior on appropriately policing the Internet to include
appropriate policies and technology; and providing examples
of other developing countries that are attempting to address
this issue. The NCHR is working with youth centers across
Egypt to instill human rights values and wants to work with
the UNDP or USAID to install computers and give youth access
to information on the Internet, Qotb said, but noted that
U.S. assistance can be problematic due to public opinion that
sees it as interference in internal Egyptian affairs. Qotb
requested that the USG prepare a concept paper to use during
a December 3 - 5 African/Arab conference on human rights to
bolster momentum on protecting the free flow of information,
which Ambassador Gross said his office would provide. Qotb
also suggested that the USG send an "expert" to Egypt in the
spring to meet with the GOE and NGO's on these topics.
Ambassador Gross agreed, and offered that the U.S.
Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) might be best
suited to help.

8. (U) Ambassador Gross has cleared this cable.

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